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Ostapenko vs Pavlyuchenkova WTA St. Petersburg live streaming, preview and tips - Ostapenko targets third win over Pavlyuchenkova and first quarter-final of 2019

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 31 Jan 2019
  • Jelena Ostapenko vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is live from St. Petersburg around 4.00pm local time on Thursday (1.00pm GMT)
  • Ostapenko has won both of their previous meetings in straight sets
Jelena Ostapenko (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko targets her first quarter-final of the season on Thursday when she takes on Australian Open quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in St. Petersburg.

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Jelena Ostapenko owns victories over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on grass and clay - can she prevail again on indoor hardcourts to claim back-to-back wins for the first time in 2019 and reach the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy quarter-finals?

Ostapenko is still young, but she’s never really played her best tennis in January or in Australia, and that trend continued last month as she went 0-3 across Shenzhen, Sydney and the Australian Open. The Latvian opened her season with a 0-6 2-6 defeat to Monica Niculescu in Shenzhen and went down 3-6 3-6 to eventual finalist Ashleigh Barty at the Sydney International before suffering a three-set loss to Maria Sakkari in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Desperate to get off the mark in St. Petersburg, Ostapenko came up against another player struggling for form in Kristina Mladenovic in the first round. It was a tense battle between two nervous competitors, and that was reflected in the scoreline as Ostapenko emerged victorious in topsy-turvy encounter, 6-1 0-6 6-0. Despite the strong finish, it wasn’t a polished performance from Ostapenko, who it 10 more unforced errors than winners, which is unusual when you win a match with sets of 6-1 and 6-0. However, Ostapenko has been dealing with a wrist issue, which partially explains her start to 2019, and with a win now under her belt, perhaps the 21-year-old is ready to go on a run in St. Petersburg?

“It was a strange match today but I was fighting until the last point," Ostapenko said. "I was very nervous because I haven’t won a match this year, and so the most important thing is that I could win.
"Now I’m looking forward to playing my next match.”

After her extraordinary breakthrough in 2017 where she secured her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open and qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals Singapore, finishing the year inside the top 10, Ostapenko struggled with the increased pressure and expectation in 2018. Sure, Ostapenko is never going to be the most consistent player on tour, but she would have been disappointed with her 23-20 record in 2018 - although, in saying that, she did reach the Wimbledon semi-finals and the final of the Premier Mandatory Miami Open, claiming scalps over Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina along the way.

Those two aforementioned results are what Ostapenko needs to do more often in 2019 if she wants to propel herself back towards the top of the rankings. She’s more than capable and proven she belongs in the top 10 at her best, but whether she can perform at that level consistently throughout a season is the question at the moment.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is another player who has found it difficult to consistently produce her best tennis her entire career. A former junior champion at the Australian Open when she beat Caroline Wozniacki in the 2006 final, Pavlyuchenkova was touted as one of the next big stars of women’s tennis, especially after she added the junior US Open title to her trophy cabinet and hit the No. 1 ranking later that year. Pavlyuchenkova has no doubt carved out a great career, but you’ve got to say its also been underwhelming in relation to her supreme talent - she’s won 12 WTA titles, been a quarter-finalist at all four slams, peaked at a career-high ranking of No. 13 (in 2011) and defeated 30 top 10 players, which is excellent, but she’s too good a player not to have even made a final of a Premier-5 event or above.


The Russian’s fitness and movement has sometimes held her back as well, but after a tough 2018 campaign in which she dropped out of the top 40 and finished at her lowest year-end ranking since 2008, Pavlyuchenkova has started the 2019 season in encouraging fashion, reaching her fifth Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open last month. Pavlyuchenkova scored four very good wins over Monica Puig, Kiki Bertens, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Sloane Stephens, but she did squander an outstanding chance to reach a first major semi-final, turning up an extremely flat and lacklustre performance against Danielle Collins when the match was in her hands, losing a tight second set before being blown away by a 2-6 7-5 6-1 scoreline.

Pavlyuchenkova hasn’t let the disappointment linger though, immediately bouncing back in St. Petersburg with a 7-5 7-6(4) victory over the experienced Alize Cornet in the opening round. It was a fairly impressive performance by the Russian as she fired down 36 winners to 31 unforced errors and served at 70 per cent of first serves in.

As mentioned, Ostapenko has won both of their previous encounters, prevailing on the grass of Birmingham in 2016 and in Fed Cup on clay in 2018, taking both in straight sets. However, Pavlyuchenkova is in much better form coming into this match-up, while I wasn’t convinced at all with Ostapenko in her win over Mladenovic. Both players like to seize the initiative in baseline exchanges and play first-strike tennis, and it’s been Pavlyuchenkova who has been executing better so far this season. You’ve got to say the Russian is the favourite for the quarter-finals.


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Ostapenko vs Pavlyuchenkova WTA St. Petersburg live streaming, preview and tips - Ostapenko targets third win over Pavlyuchenkova and first quarter-final of 2019

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko targets her first quarter-final of the season on Thursday when she takes on Australian Open quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in St. Petersburg.

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